The Basil O’Conner Starter Scholar Research Award is specifically for young investigators to fund innovative research programs. In 2015, only 18 proposals were funded including Muralidharan’s project entitled “Chaperoning the Malaria Parasite through the Human Host.”
Malaria is one of the leading causes of infant mortality in the world, responsible for the almost 600,000 infant deaths each year. This devastating parasitic diseases is further responsible for placental malaria in pregnant women that leads to complications such as fetal loss and maternal death. All the clinical symptoms of malaria, including death, result from the growth of Plasmodium within human red blood cells. The parasite completely remodels the red blood cells to create a replicative niche.
Muralidaharan’s lab investigates the mechanisms that underlie the parasite’s ability to transform the red blood cells.
The goal of funded project is to identify new drug targets and eventually develop novel anti-malarials that interfere with the parasite-driven subjugation of the red blood cells. New treatments are needed as Plasmodium has developed resistance to all currently available drugs.
Visit Dr. Vasant Murlidharan’s page for more information about his lab and research.